David Howe, another Toronto transplant in town for a visit (he has since moved back to Europe), is a native of Belfast in Northern Ireland and hence, takes with a grain of salt the claims of both sides on who won or was in the right in some long-ago war. “The Canadians and the Americans have different perspectives on a lot of things,” he says with a grin.
Still, one of the lessons of the War of 1812 up here is that three years of hostility can be followed by nearly two centuries of harmonious relations. “People ask, ‘didn’t we beat the Americans in that war?’” says interpreter Peter Gibbins, who portrays a Canadian militiaman at Fort York. “I reply, ‘sort of, but they’re still there.’”
Even in this part of the country where the War of 1812 matters, all—or most—is forgiven. It’s doubtful that there are many Canadians who walk out of Fort York Historic Site urging an attack on Buffalo.
“For us it was a defensive war,” says Reeves. “We may have had some victories, but we didn’t take any [American] territory. That part, I think, appeals to the Canadian character. We’re people who have persevered, and from our point of view, this was a war of perseverance.”